Monday, August 24, 2009
Those Quiet Moments Floor Me
I just got back from seeing "Ponyo" and while I usually don't always comment on world releases in this blog, I feel moved to break that habit for this post.
Note: there are spoilers below if you haven't seen the film.
There's so much to be said about this terrific film, but for me it's the little quiet moments throughout "Ponyo" that make it truly special. Here's a round up of bits from the film that I still can't get out of my head:
With most of the seaside town underwater, Ponyo and Sōsuke journey to find Sōsuke's mother in a little toy boat. There are lots of quiet moments of the two looking underwater and observing the new sea floor at their doorstep. Instead of it being terrifying to be in that water, Sōsuke's walk in the shallows (surrounded by a whole host of prehistoric fish swimming around him) was a thing of beauty. I particularly loved the subtle bit animation of a baby octopus slowly climbing its way into Sōsuke's home, perhaps showing nature asserting itself into our modern lives.
-The Bugs at the Shore:
Sōsuke climbs down to the ocean with a pail containing Ponyo (as a fish) and just foreground of him are these majestic seaside rocks. As Sōsuke gets closer we see a herd of rock dwelling bugs scatter about, reminding us that in this film there are world's within worlds and these worlds constantly interact with our own.
-Ponyo and the Baby:
Ponyo and Sōsuke come across a young family with a new born baby and there's a wonderful sequence where Ponyo and the baby stare into each other's eyes. In many ways Ponyo is a baby herself, just learning what it's like to live as little human girl, so the gaze between these two characters is particularly poignant. Miyazaki gives us long close ups of the pair as Ponyo slowly registers wonder at the baby while the baby holds its ground cautiously. Before this sequence is over Ponyo pours a cup of soup for the baby and gives the parents a stack of sandwiches. I saw the movie with Jason McDonald and afterwards he remarked, "What a sequence! A very human moment of people helping each other." I think we both got goosebumps discussing this. We so seldom see people connecting with each other in a real and meaningful way in an animated children's feature film.
-Ponyo spilling water out of the boat:
Once the Ponyo and Sōsuke make it ashore, there's a scene where Ponyo grabs the little toy boat out of the water and tips it so the water can spill out. Its such an ordinary moment, but full of natural innocence. This is the opposite of a cliched animated performance. It's moments like this that help a character become real to the audience's eyes.
***for a far more comprehensive look at Ponyo, I highly recommend Michael Sporn's Splog (http://www.michaelspornanimation.com/splog/) post of August 18.